|Brian Moehler||Wandy Rodriguez|
|0 - 0, 0.00||0 - 0, 0.00|
StrosDux brought it up last night: The Ever-Popular Wandy Effect*, where the team that can't score jack/squat for playoff MVP's like Roy Oswalt and Hall of Famers like Roger Clemens consistently goes bananas for a mediocre rookie left hander.
I thought it might be fun to look at the effect, try to understand it, and failing that, to at least watch it at work.
The evil twisted icepeckers at ESPN tell us that Wandy had run support of 6.09 last year. Baseball Tips, who appear to be able to explain it in a much less tongue-tied fashion than I can, say that in this case Run Support "is the number of runs scored by [the Astros] while [Wandy] was still in the game times nine divided by his Innings Pitched."
So if Wandy could hypothetically pitch a complete game, Run Support is the number of hypothetical runs that hypothetical Astros team would score during that complete hypothetical game, just based on last season, anyway.
And I can tell you, after the first two games of this season, that 6.09 sure looks good. Hell, I'd take just plain 6, forget the .09. . . . .
Wandy threw 128-2/3 innings last year, just over 14 complete games worth. Multiplying that by the 6.09 gives you 87, which is the actual amount of runs Houston scored for him during those 128-and some odd innings. Compare that with 82, which is the number of runs he allowed, and 79, which is the number of those which were earned.
They don't have pythagorean winning percentages for pitchers, but if you were just looking at 87 runs of support vs. 82 allowed, you might think you were looking at a .500 pitcher. And of course, you were: Wandy was 10 - 10 last year.
Those who want to defend him might say Rodriguez was pitching down to his run support; those who think the rest of us have misplaced faith will say that when the run support goes away, so will Wandy.
But what if it didn't? What if we could psyche the hitters into thinking that Wandy--or a clone of his--was pitching every night? The offensive numbers would go through that moldy old roof, you'd think. The Astros threw 1443 innings in 2005, or roughly 11.21 Wandy-seasons. And since the team scores 87 runs each Wandy year (right?), that means that if Wandy (or his clone) pitched every game for an entire season, the Astros would score 975 runs by the time that season concluded.
The 2005 Astros. 975 runs.
The Red Sox scored 910 runs in 2005 to lead the majors, but that was of course with the crappy DH. Cincinatti led the NL last year with 820. Only three modern-era National League teams have ever scored 975 runs, and the highest scoring bunch in Astros' history--the 2000 team--"only" managed 938.
So as you see, the Wandy effect is not only real, it's very pronounced.
That benchmark of team offensive prowess, the New York Yankees of 1927, only scored one more run than that 975. So put another way, Wandy turned Adam Everett and Chris Burke and Willy Taveras and the rest of them into the '27 Yankees.
And Brownie calls Oswalt the Wizard?
Pretty nice when you can fashion (even hypothetically) a Murderer's Row out of spare parts like a defense-oriented catcher, a rookie speedster with questionable patience, and Jose Vizcaino. All because of the influence of one rookie lefthander.
Of course, every Surinam cherry has a worm, and here it's that to get the offensive effects you're looking for, you've got to let Wandy (yeah, yeah, and his 10.2 clones) actually pitch. That's not as pretty, of course. Through similar feats of imagination to those detailed above, those 82 runs he gave up expand into a full-season of 920 runs allowed.
That's a freaking lot. So the closest parallel really is the 2000 team.
Pythagoras tells us that an Astros team which scored 975 runs but gave up 920 would have a .529 winning percentage, which works out to 86 wins, which is obviously inferior to what we had pitching Wandy only when forced to.
So I guesss the moral of the story is that the Wandy effect is good, but it's not that good.
* Yes this is a Todd Rundgren reference.